Some coral reef fish , such as several species of scalar or angelfish ( Pterophyllum scalare) , are capable of producing hybrid offspring with even more striking colors than their parents, since the eggs of one species and the sperm of another it combines. A new study by Australian researchers has comprehensively documented all known naturally occurring hybrids of marine angelfish. The results are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society . After comparing the mitochondrial DNA of the hatchlings with that of their parent species, the team found that 48% of marine angelfish can hybridize, more than any other group of coral reef fish. After comparing the mitochondrial DNA of 37 hybrids with that of their parent species, the team found

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that 48% of marine angelfish can hybridize, more than any other group of coral reef fish. These data end the previous record achieved by butterflyfish ( Chaetodontidae ), a family in which more than a third of species are capable of producing hybrids. In the case of butterflyfish, they don’t stray too far from their own species as they could have trouble finding a mate. However, most angelfish hybrids occur between deeply divergent lineages . In principle, this type of hybridization does not make evolutionary sense, and it even represents a threat to the diversity of species. For the experts, led Yi-Kai Tea , a graduate student at the University of Sydney and the Australian Museum Research Institute ( AMRI ), a possible explanation is that the angelfish ‘rejects’

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monogamy . Unlike butterflyfish, which mate for life, angelfish live in ‘harems’ where multiple females mate with a single male. “When the male identifies a female, they rise up the water column and release her sperm and eggs,” Tea explains. Once adrift, the egg is ready for fertilization by a sperm of any other species. Many unknowns to solve One of the most surprising findings of the work is that angelfish can produce hybrid offspring with species that have up to 11% difference in mitochondrial DNA, as occurs with a mix between emperor angelfish ( Pomacanthus imperator) and angelfish. blue ( Pomacanthus annularis) . “This is extremely important,” says Tea. “Reef fish rarely hybridize with a difference of more than 6% .” Although the work reveals a

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